The Secret

Agnus Dei

01. Agnus Dei
02. May God Damn All Of Us
03. Violent Infection
04. Geometric Power
05. Post Mortem Nihil Est
06. Daily Lies
07. Love Your Enemy
08. Vermin of Dust
09. Darkness I Became
10. Heretic Temple
11. The Bottomless Pit
12. Obscure Dogma
13. Seven Billion Graves

[10/23/12]
[Southern Lord Records]

There is a certain perverse irony behind the title of The Secret’s fourth album, Agnus Dei. The Italian metallic hardcore outfit’s latest offering bears the title of the peaceful Christian symbol of a holy lamb, yet presents itself as a wolf amongst the flock devouring the innocent beasts. While initially an intriguing and entertaining endeavor, repeated listens quickly reveal that this analogy would be more appropriately adjusted to describe Agnus Dei as a wolf in sheep’s clothing. For while The Secret provide a solid performance of the recent trend of sludgy, grind influenced hardcore, this lycan ferocity is padded down by certain wooly missteps.

The primary flaw of Agnus Dei can be summed up with an aforementioned adjective: solid. A grand majority of the tracks are neither exceptional nor egregious, but merely acceptable exercises of what Entombed accomplished with Wolverine Blues to inspire the sect of hardcore that The Secret subscribe to. ‘The Bottomless Pit’ is the only track that pays proper homage to the Swedish death metal legends, but unfortunately arrives near the conclusion of the album. Additionally, contemporary bands such as Trap Them or Rotten Sound have exhibited far more refined examples of this trend, either through exemplifying the style with a knack for excellent songwriting or expanding upon the sound with outside influences.

The Secret attempt to supplement their music with the latter method but do not achieve overwhelming success. The band’s additive of choice: black metal flavorings in the vein of Emperor’s riffing and non-symphonic based atmospheres on In the Nightside Eclipse. To the band’s credit, these elements work well on tracks like ‘Vermin of Dust,’ ‘Darkness I Became,’ ‘Heretic Temple,’ and ‘Seven Billion Graves.’ However, what allows these tracks to flourish is the prominence that the band places on their blackened influences, almost as if they momentarily channel Bathory rather than Entombed. This strength is lost when other blackened sections fall short elsewhere on the album due to their brevity and lack of development.

It truly is a shame that The Secret don’t develop these elements more, as it becomes clear that they could compose some promising black metal. And if that route is one undesirable to the band, they must at the very least focus on the core of their sound. Otherwise, The Secret will find themselves lost in a sea of other bands far more talented than they are. While Agnus Dei is not a horrendous album, it will most likely be eclipsed by much stronger releases from Converge (All We Love We Leave Behind), Gaza (No Absolutes in Human Suffering) and Black Breath (Sentenced to Life), all of whom utilized Entombed’s blueprint to some degree and created strong efforts with it. Perhaps with their next release, The Secret could create an album of the same caliber as those previously mentioned, but if relevance is something the band wishes to maintain, time is of the essence.

The Secret – Agnus Dei gets…

3/5

– SM

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